April 02, 2014 - 12:37 PM
I have written in previous reports and spoken on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the House of Commons. The feedback from constituents for a number of years has been consistent in supporting tighter regulations that ensure Canadians are provided the first opportunity for employment and that those who become temporary foreign workers are not abused or taken advantage of. Recent regulatory changes have also supported these principles and up until recently, most citizens were strongly in support of enhanced regulation in this area.
Unfortunately a situation has arisen in the community of Merritt where changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and compliance issues could result in the loss of a community dance instructor from South Africa. For privacy reasons there is considerable information that I cannot share that has led to these challenges however it is also apparent that in my view, this process is currently failing the community of Merritt. I have long maintained that there must be a balance between regulatory oversight and acknowledging what the real circumstances are.
To date in this instance, regulatory oversight appears to be usurping common sense and regrettably the temporary foreign worker program does not provide the same avenues for reconsideration that are available under other immigration programs. In summary, the Merritt situation demonstrates that when a community does strongly support the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the program has shown it lacks the ability to recognize that. This is something we need to change. Much of my work in Ottawa over the past weeks and in particular this week has been to attempt to find an avenue to rectify this situation within the framework of Government that must treat compliance issues with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in a fair and equitable way. This is an issue that I will continue to actively work on.
On the subject of employment related matters, as of April 1st, the plastic Social Insurance Cards (SIN cards) we are all familiar with will no longer be issued by the Government of Canada. Instead of a plastic SIN card, applicants will receive a paper letter that contains your SIN number. There is no fee to apply for this new paper issued SIN number. One frequently asked question by those keen to join the workforce, is what age can a young person apply to receive a SIN number? The answer is anyone who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident 12 years of age or older can apply for a SIN number.
One final question I have received this week is in regards to recent claims that the Federal Government is cutting $36 billion from Health Care. These claims are misleading and false. In reality the Federal Government budgeted health transfers to Canadian Provinces and Territories will increase annually. To be clear, each year the Provincial Governments and Territories will receive more funds from the Federal Government then the previous year. Currently health transfers from the Federal Government are at a record level of $32 billion per year. By the end of the decade health transfers will surpass $40 billion. What will be changing in 2017 is how the funding formula is calculated for health transfers. After 2017 the transfer formula will be based on a three-year moving average of nominal Gross Domestic Product, with a guaranteed minimum increase to health transfer funding of at least 3 per cent per year.
In other words, each year a Province will continue to receive more funds then the previous year thus there is a guaranteed annual increase to the Provinces and territories and not a cut in funding as was done by previous federal Governments.
If you have a comment, question or concern on any matter before the House of Commons please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla who writes a weekly report for his constituents and his website www.danalbas.com has an archive of previous reports.
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